Viennese-based photographer, Ronnie Niedermeyer aka @ronnie.niedermeyer, has made a name for himself in Vienna’s photography community. And for good reason. His powerful black and white shots of the inhabitants of our city poignantly capture the heart of Vienna.
Here are 9 photos of his that capture the dark humour of Vienna and its inhabitants:
1. Have you always been Vienna-based?
While I was born and raised in Vienna, my family moved to Jerusalem when I turned 13. I went to high school there and returned to Vienna all by myself – two weeks shy of my eighteenth birthday.
2. Describe your style in 9 words.
Documentary art photography inspired by Group f/64 and Magnum
3. Name three of your favourite locations to shoot at in Vienna?
The Zentralfriedhof, the Zentralverschiebebahnhof and Alberner Hafen. All three are in Simmering – Vienna’s most rugged and authentic district, in my opinion.
4. Tell us about your photography. What do you focus on?
Diane Arbus phrased it so well: “I don’t rearrange my subject; I rearrange myself”. I aim to show things as they are, straightforward and un-manipulated. My personal statement manifests itself in what I photograph, how I photograph it, and in what context I present it.
5. When did you start to photograph and look at things the way you do now?
I was given my first camera for my Bar Mitzvah in 1993. Every day, on my way to school, I took a shortcut through a landfill. My first photos were taken on that landfill and show discarded furniture. It’s amazing how beautiful trash can be when the sun hits it at a certain angle.
6. What is the wildest experience you’ve had while photographing?
I spent two years in Leipzig in order to photograph abandoned buildings (most of which I entered illegally). In order to finance this stay, I applied as a private English teacher for a manufacturer of orthopedic products. In the course of those two years, I became his right-hand man, representing his company at fairs and doing the correspondence with his factories in China. It was an amazing experience.
7. What does a typical working day look like for you?
Thankfully, there is no such thing as a typical working day for me. I would go crazy if one day was like another.
8. Did Instagram change how you see the world?
No. However, I find Instagram to be a useful tool to market my work.
9. Who’s your favourite Instagram artist at the moment?
Vienna Würstelstand, of course! (editors note: yeehaa!)
10. What’s your favourite place in Vienna?
Gasthaus Krippl, in the 4th district. Time seems to have stopped there around 1967. The place is frequented by chimney sweeps and local drunkards. Surprisingly, the owner is Vietnamese, so alongside traditional Viennese dishes you can find delicious, spicy Pho on the menu.
11. What does Vienna mean to you and how has it influenced your work?
Vienna is one of Europe’s last metropoles that managed to cling onto some form of local culture rather than succumbing completely to the slick, globalized, streamlined, commercial, anemic, politically-correct glop. Here, one can still find nooks and crannies where Vienna is unmistakably Viennese.
12. What’s your background photo on your phone?
An unobtrusive dark gray metallic pattern.
13. Is there any music that inspires you in your work?
Jazz and Schubert. Though sometimes I delve into 1980s pop just for nostalgia’s sake.
14. What are some goals for the future?
As long as my work remains relevant to people, as long as it continues to touch a nerve, I want to continue to put it out there for the world to see.
15. Anything else you want to add?
Have I mentioned I’m a fan of Vienna Würstelstand? Your blog shows Vienna as I see it, off the beaten path, with all the rough edges, grumpy denizens – and goldenes Wiener Herz.